By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Eddie Krawiec, an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle driver, recently took time to do an interview with The Capital Sports Report. His interview is about his racing career.
TCSR: Could you talk about racing in the AMA Pro Star Series?
EK: “I started racing in the AMA Pro Star Series in 1997. My first event was in Atco, New Jersey. I raced in the Series to get my feet wet. I raced to see what it’s all about. In 1998, I decided to race in a handful of events. I competed and had some decent success. Then, from there on, I decided to move forward in the series. In 2003, I purchased a new bike and switched careers to drive a Pro Stock motorcycle.”
TCSR: You had a unique job working at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, while racing on the side. Could you talk about working at the track?
EK: “Yeah, I started working at the track in 1992. I was a full-time track official. Although it was a part-time position, I was a full-time track official. I was working on the drag strip in the water box area. I worked in various other positions on the drag strip. In 1999, I became the Assistant Track Manager. After the 2000 campaign, one of the current owners, Jimmy Knapp, decided he was going to step down from the position. He decided that he wanted to move onto other things. Once he stepped down, I was the next person in line. I held the position from 2001 to 2007 when I chose to retire from it. I worked side-by-side with many people at the track, but in order to further my career in the NHRA, I had to make a decision to move forward to move to Indianapolis to work full-time for Vance & Hines. I believe the Raceway Park position gave me a lot of experience with the public relations side of things, especially a whole new view on things that most drivers do not get to experience.”
TCSR: Could you talk about finishing in second place in 2002 and 2003 in the AMA Pro Star Series?
EK: “Both years were tough years for me. I lost the 2002 championship by few points – it was less than 10 points. It was something that I wish I could have said that I’ve conquered my goal of winning the championship. Obviously, everybody wants to win the championship and say that they’ve won it, but for me, it was a great successful career, as we were able to do things that were never accomplished before. In 2003, I switched motorcycles to a Yamaha, which nobody ran competitively before. I was able to win races and get several No. 1 qualifying spots. I even set national records with it. With that being said, I took something on the outside that was never competitive to the inside to make it competitive. I think we made a statement the year, as I’ve left the class on a high note.”
TCSR: Could you talk about making your NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle debut at Englishtown in 2004?
EK: “The reason why I chose to debut at Englishtown, because it was the most local track for me. I really didn’t have much experience, as I had to get my license that year. I also had to develop as a driver and make runs down the track. I was able to get my license early enough in the season, and was moving on to my first event. The easiest way to say this is the hardest events is always your local events, because you have a lot of support from friends and family there. It made it very difficult for me, because I had to live up to the pressure. I was a very new rider at that time, so you can definitely let those pressures affect you. For me, it wasn’t the easiest event to start out at, but being an independent driver, a little guy in the business, just starting out, it was the most cost-effective event for me to start out at. It was a special event for me, and something that I’ll never forget.”
TCSR: Could you talk about being a full-time driver first the first time during the 2007 season?
EK: “The 2007 year was the first year I made myself a touring pro. To be a part of the Screamin’ Eagle Vance & Hines team was short of a dream come true. People look at Vance & Hines and know that they are at the top of the sport. The second part of it was that I was able to ride one of their motorcycles. That made the move that much better. This opportunity arose in the winter of 2006, and I basically had goals of qualifying for every race. I also wanted to make a respectable showing. I finished the season with the No. 1 plate, and I had what I felt like was a good deal. I went to two final rounds, and was just getting my feet wet. I had to get an understanding of what it takes to be an NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle driver.”
TCSR: You were in a tight battle with Chris Rivas for the 2008 Pro Stock Motorcycle Championship. You were able to overcome the battle with Rivas to win the Championship. What did that mean to you?
EK: “That was a dream come true. I was so close to winning a championship, when I was racing in the AMA Pro Star Series, that I wanted it more. I remember Chris Rivas had a 19-point lead on me late in the season. I had to get all the breaks in order to overcome that 19-point deficit, which, luckily for myself, I did. I was able to win this championship without winning a race, which is a feat in itself. After winning the championship, I was later informed that I am one of two NHRA drivers in the history of the sport to win a championship without winning a national event. Rob Bruins, a former Top Fuel driver, was the other driver. I will never forget this championship.”
TCSR: In the 2009 campaign, you were able to win your first race in Atlanta. What did that mean to you?
EK: “As you mentioned, I was able to get my first Pro Stock Motorcycle win in Atlanta. I remember racing Doug Horne in the final round at the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals Finals. It was a big win in my career. Winning in Atlanta gave myself and my team confidence that we can win races throughout that year. If I remember correctly, we won five races that year and just barely missed the championship to Hector Arana in a very close battle. He beat me by just two points that year.”
TCSR: Last year, you won your second championship in your career. What did that mean to you?
EK: “It was great! It means a lot every time you can win a championship. I had a tough battle with Hector Arana Jr. late in the season. He gave me a good challenge until the end when I won the championship in the second round (at Pomona). Unfortunately, in the final race, I lost in the final round to my teammate Andrew Hines. I fouled (red lighted) at the starting line, which gave Hines the automatic win. But it was good to be the champion. It validated my 2008 championship when I did not win a single race.”
TCSR: This year, you are going into the season as the reigning champion. Could you talk about your goal for this season?
EK: “I am going to have a lot of teams going for me. When you are the champion, everybody wants to take it from you. I think LE Tonglet, Andrew (Hines), Hector Arana, Hector Arana Jr., and Matt Smith are going to give me a good challenge, as well the other drivers. I have to make sure we keep it in our camp. That puts pressure on my team and myself to perform. But I believe in my team. I believe with my confidence in my team that we can win back-to-back championships. I know that hasn’t happened in a long time, but I believe it could happen.”
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